With its Ripjaws KM780, G.Skill went all out on the bells and whistles, including creating a funky overall chassis design and loading the thing up with additional keys.
As far as putting a dent in the keyboard market, the KM780 shows G.Skill’s willingness to try something risky even as it flexes its muscles as a budding peripherals maker.
The question we need to answer here is whether G.Skill can create a top-notch keyboard.
G.Skill has several iterations of the KM780 available, and it’s important to parse them out here. The unit we reviewed is the highest-end possible: the KM780 with RGB switches and the extra keys. We looked at the model with Cherry MX RGB Brown switches, but you can also get a unit with Cherry MX RGB Blues or Reds. They all cost $170 MSRP.
A step down, you can roll with the single-color (red only) KM780 with standard Cherry MX Red, Brown, or Blue switches. Those models cost $130.
There’s also a whole series of KM780R keyboards, which is the same as the above but without the extra key caps. Three of the KM780R models have RGB switches ($160), and three have standard Cherry MX switches and single-color LEDs (red), and they cost $120.
Oddly, all of the single-color LED models mentioned above have silver-colored roll bars and dedicated buttons instead of black.
With the KM780, G.Skill really went for it on the design. In addition to being loaded with extra keys and dedicated media & lighting buttons, it’s rimmed with a rolled metal bar that juts out rather far on the left and rights sides of the keyboard. There’s also a large, removable wrist rest with a slightly rubberized finish, and when the keyboard is fully dressed, it’s rather wide and large.
Unless you have ample desk space, you may find that the KM780 crowds your mouse and possibly other items. Some will certainly find this huge keyboard to be garish and over the top, but I imagine that others will love it. After all, the rolled bar is not merely decorative; the wrist rest attaches to it, as does the box containing the extra key caps (more on that shortly), and there’s a mouse cable bungee that’s attached to the bar as well.
In fact, because of the bar, you can slide the bungee all across the top edge of the keyboard for optimal placement. There is no additional cable routing underneath the KM780, but with the bungee, you won’t miss it.
There are two small feet under the KM780 that flip up to provide a steeper typing angle. They’re hard plastic, with no rubber tips. If you have a particularly slippery desk surface, this may cause an issue. Without the feet up, though, there are four rubber pads under the keyboard (and two under the wrist rest) that should provide a solid no-slip grip.
The switches are mounted onto a sharp-looking black, anodized brushed aluminum top plate, a la Corsair. In addition to the standard 104 keys you’d expect, G.Skill added a vertical row of six G keys on the left side (adding to the aforementioned width of the KM780). If you have reasonably large hands, you should be able to hit some of them with your pinky while gaming easily. However, you’ll have to lift your hand from the WASD keys to to reach the ones at the top and bottom of the column.
On the upper left, there are four dedicated macro buttons, and next to that are three more buttons: a Windows lock key, four-stage LED backlight brightness toggle button, and a timer key. (Yes, a timer key. More on that in the Software section.) On the upper right side are several media buttons (stop, play, forward, back, mute), including a diecast metal volume roller. All of those keys and buttons are LED-backlit. Below them is a large light bar that helpfully indicates volume level.
G.Skill included one USB passthrough port, but it also included two audio passthroughs for your headset/mic. Next to that is a little switch labelled “G” on one side and “S” on the other. When switched to G, the keyboard will be in NKRO mode; when switched to S, it will be on 6KRO (you may want to adjust this depending on what your PC supports).
The bottom row of keys is unfortunately not standard. Just like the Cougar Attack X3, the three modifier keys on the left (Ctrl, Windows, Alt) are each slightly wider than 1.5u instead of 1.25u, reducing the overall width of the spacebar to 5.5u instead of 6.5u. The four keys to right of the spacebar (Alt, Windows, Menu, Ctrl) are standard 1.25u.
For some typists, any deviation from the norm is going to be problematic, and it’s unclear why Cougar and G.Skill would bother with the change. Many of us, though, won’t notice much of an issue; I for one did not.
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